Monday, April 12, 2010

One of the truly great men in medicine

Dr. Henry Seidel was a shining star as the Dean of Medical Affairs at Johns Hopkins, an oasis for the sea of lost souls learning their way to becoming caring, compassionate, and excellent physicians. He cared not only about achieving excellence in medical education and training, but also about learning to do so without sacrificing our souls. He managed to find the time to look into our eyes and somehow know our hearts and souls in a short time. He interviewed each of us before writing our recommendations for internship and residency programs, and had an incredible knack of asking just the right question to get below the surface, to delve for the truth below the grades and critiques of his colleagues, and to put everything into perspective. Becoming a doctor anywhere can be an overwhelming experience requiring learning a massive amount of knowledge, mastering many techniques, and shouldering immense responsibility, but to do so at Hopkins, surrounded by la crème de la crème, can leave even the brightest and the best of students feeling lost and uncertain. Dr. Seidel somehow managed to make you feel good about yourself, even when you had come in feeling upset and full of doubts. In his gentle, fatherly way, he always made you feel cared about. He valued real values, and let you know that being a caring, empathetic physician was as or more important to good medical care than memorizing pages of Harrison’s textbook of medicine. He personified excellent bedside manner and, despite his busy demanding schedule, made you feel as if you were the most important thing in his day when he was speaking with you. He touched my life and guided me in ways for which I will be forever grateful. I know I was not the only one who felt that way about him…my class of 1984 set up the Henry M. Seidel M.D. Scholarship Fund to honor him while he was still actively the Dean of Students. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and mourn not only the passing of a friend and mentor, but of one of the truly great men in medicine. He has touched, enriched and guided so many in ways that will radiate for generations.

Lisa S. Bunin, M.D.
Class of 1984

1 comment:

  1. I met Dr. Seidel when I brazenly showed up in 1986 to present myself for admission after deciding that although I hadn't been admitted (I was on the upper third of the waiting list), maybe they would have a spot for me. They didn't, but Dr. Seidel provided me with the encouragement to not give up my dreams and to "stick around" Baltimore and see what happens. After a year of working in a lab at Hopkins, I applied again and this time was accepted straight away. And the rest, as they say, is history. This was not my last encounter with this amazing human being and each time he greeted me the kindness and wise counsel of a trusted elder. Hopkins can be a very imposing place to be, and Dr. Seidel would always make it less so. To say I am grateful is a gross understatement. Thank you Henry Seidel.

    Steve Helgemo, MD
    Class of 1991